3/9/2011 2:49:00 PM
If you look up "hope" in the dictionary you will discover there are two parts to the definition: a) "desire or expectation" for something in the future to occur; and b) "grounds for believing" that something in the future will occur. We run into trouble when we have one without the other - when we have "desire without any grounds" or when hope is based not on reality but on our desires or our wishes.
The principle here is that if we do not have any objective reasons to think more time will help a situation, it is probably time for the way you are approaching the situation to end so that a new approach can emerge.
In the words of Henry Cloud in his book Necessary Endings "How do we know when to hang on to hope and when to grasp the hopelessness that we need to grasp to do something different?" His answer - we need a good diagnostic.
When our desire for a different future is without grounds, it is merely a wish and not true hope at all. Have you ever seen a congregation or leader or individual base their future on desire but have no real grounds to believe anything will change? I certainly have.
The reality is, if what we are currently doing is not producing the results we want, doing more of that will not change our situation. Change and true hope (when things are not working and the situation is hopeless) starts by seeing the reality of the situation, truly wrapping our arms around that, and then designing a pathway forward.
Hopelessness is the soil of a new beginning. If we truly see our reality and it's hopeless, we can find a way that will work which is rooted in that clear picture of things as they really are.
Hopelessness is essential for churches in transition that need a new plan for their ministry. If something isn't working, you will never get to a place of true hope until you face the reality that what you have been doing is not working.
Now let's assume you feel your hopelessness and are ready to find God's new plan for the future. What do you need to inspire true hope and move towards a future expectation?
The Pathway Forward Towards True Hope
There are several factors that will determine whether you have true hope or simply a wish for things to change. It is no coincidence that many of these activities are found in the principles and practices of healthy Transitional Ministry.
Nine Objective Factors that Fuel True Hope
1. Active involvement in a proven change process
2. Additional structure and support
3. Systems to monitor progress
4. New experiences and skills
5. Self-sustaining motivation
6. Admission of need
7. The presence of support
8. Skilled help
9. Some prior or current success
(from chapter 6 in Necessary Endings).
In order for hope to be something other than a wish, there must be new energy infused into the change process as well as a new template to follow.
As Transitional Leaders and Coaches, you are dealers in hope. You are called upon to help those who may be simply wishing and are without true hope. What you can bring is new energy, new leadership, new ideas and be a catalyst for renewed hope.
Questions for Further Thought and Reflection
Maybe something you've read in this article has resonated with you and your leadership. To stimulate your thinking and action here are a few questions for you to ponder, reflect on and turn into action.
1. Where in your personal life are you simply "wishing" for a better future but when you think about it, there are "no grounds for believing" that anything will change? What needs to change (new energy, a new template, training, skill development, etc.) for you to turn that wish into a hope?
2. Now think of a congregation you are working with that needs to experience hopelessness as their starting point for change. What conversation do they need to have to help them to come to terms with their "reality"? What questions can you ask that will create an urgency for change?
3. Think through the nine objective factors that fuel hope and determine which factor you can implement with a congregation you are currently working with. What is your leadership strength as your reflect on these factors?
4. Do you need to grow in your understanding of how to be a "dealer in hope"? Consider reading Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud.
To discuss this further, go to my blog and enter your comments. Your input is welcome!
Created by Don Miller
Excellent, keep up the good work.